Lewis Hamilton has labelled Ferrari’s straight-line speed as “impressive” ahead of his latest battle with the Scuderia in China.
Mercedes have recorded back-to-back 1-2 finishes in the first two races of the season, although the Bahrain Grand Prix result was a gift from the racing gods after likely and deserved race winner Charles Leclerc suffered reliability problems.
The Shanghai track features the second longest straight on the Formula 1 calendar, which is making Ferrari the favourites for many with a straight-line speed advantage thought to be in the region of four tenths.
But, despite Ferrari’s power, Hamilton is confident that Mercedes can launch different plans of attack from other areas.
“It’s impressive to see,” Hamilton told reporters in China.
“But it just means that we are challenging other areas to try and pull more from the car.
“My confidence and our focus and our attention has not wavered, and I’m still very confident that we can extract more on weekends.
“It’s not just about straight-line speed; it’s about cornering, performance, reliability, the mechanical side, how you approach a weekend – all these sorts of things.
“You could say [Ferrari have] a stronger package than they had last year.
“I don’t think we have got a worse package, we have got a really good package as well, but they’ve definitely stepped up this year.”
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) April 10, 2019
Hamilton still views this season as a six-way fight for victories and it is not just a case of Hamilton v Vettel again.
“At the moment it’s clearly not just me and Sebastian [Vettel],” he added.
“I don’t see that changing any time soon. At the moment it’s at least four of us and then the Red Bulls.
Hamilton went on to single out Red Bull for further praise but has noticed a reverse trend with the Milton Keynes team.
“You definitely can’t count them[Red Bull] out,” Hamilton said.
“The Red Bulls have had a bit of a slower start but they won the race here last year and they particularly finish off strong so I anticipate it could be something similar.
“On the straights have been really good. Whereas they usually have a really strong car and not such a strong engine, it’s gone the other way this year.
“They have not as strong a car but they are one of the teams who can develop at a similar rate to Ferrari and us.”
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